RSU 9 – A referendum question was on Tuesday’s ballot for RSU 9, to see if the residents would authorize the school board to accept a donation of up to $2.5 million from the Bjorn Foundation towards career and technical education programming at the middle school level.
As of Thursday the results are 7,517 yes to 840 no, with the towns of Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Temple, Vienna, Weld, and Wilton reporting in. With a little over 10 percent opposed, the project is likely to move forward.
The proposal would see an addition constructed at the middle school and fully equipped for a CTE center, somewhat similar to the Foster Tech Center at the high school. Potential programming includes architecture, construction, and manufacturing; medical and public safety; audio and visual technology and communication; hospitality and tourism.
A letter from Superintendent Christian Elkington form Nov. 7 reads, “These funds will be used to add about 5,000 square feet of space (three large multi-purpose rooms and one small classroom) to support technical education opportunities at MBMS. If passed by the voters, this extra space will allow us to expand program learning options to our students in the areas of construction, manufacturing, architecture, technology, and tourism, the details of which are now being developed.
“Three staff positions will be needed to fully operate alternative programming options for our students. Two of these positions will come from adjusting present MBMS staffing positions. To fund the third position, the RSU 9 School Board has agreed to add an additional teaching position (approximately $62,000 in salary & benefits) to support the programming options that will be offered. By adding 5,000 square feet of space, the heating, electricity, cleaning, and insurance costs are estimated to increase to about $24,000 per year. Our present plan is for these program changes and costs to start with the 2024-2025 School year.”
These estimated cost increases total roughly $86,000 annually.
Providing career and technical education opportunities at an earlier age may help with school participation for some students who begin to lose interest in traditional academics, and help connect those academic skills with ‘real life’ skills. For example, students who need to apply higher mathematics concepts such as algebra and geometry to a construction project may have better success mastering those mathematics concepts in the classroom.
The ballot question, as posed to voters in Chesterville, Farmington, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Starks, Vienna, Weld, and Wilton:
“Do you favor authorizing the school board of Regional School Unit No. 9 to accept a donation from the Bjorn Foundation in an amount of up to $2,500,000 to construct and equip an addition and related improvements to Mt. Blue Middle School for career and technical education programming at the middle school level?”